Money is important. Of that, there can be no doubt. If you don't have enough for your basic needs, and a few necessary wants, there's no chance of you being content or happy in life. Everyone knows this of course. In fact, the need for money is why most of us go to work. But it’s never really enough is it? There's always some place we want to visit or some gadget that we want to buy but we can’t because of our barren bank accounts. So how do we get that extra bit of money that we're always craving for? Leveraging the power of the internet to generate a steady stream of passive income is the answer.
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Passive income is defined by Wikipedia as “income resulting from cash flow received on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it”. And while the ‘no effort’ part of the definition is very enticing, the truth is that generating passive income requires a massive amount of effort. And this effort needs to be exerted up front and then sustained for months, and maybe even years, until your venture starts returning profits. And even then, you'll have to monitor your income streams to make sure it’s all going smoothly. It's certainly not an easy endeavour, no matter what most people may tell you, and it requires an investment of something far more valuable than money: time. But if you are up for it, then here are 14 ideas that you can use to start earning passive income.
Affiliate and referral marketing
Affiliate and referral marketing involves driving sales for another business which then pays you a commission for each sale it acquires through your efforts. The Amazon Associates affiliate marketing program is one of the best options for people looking to earn money this way. You need set up a website with outbound links redirecting to products on Amazon (or another site that offers affiliate programs) and if a visitor from your site buys the product, then that business pays you a share of the amount spent.
Sell an eBook
Writing and publishing an eBook has become a widely popular means of earning passive income in recent years. eBooks on non-fiction topics like online marketing, business development, career advice, and the like are especially successful. While fiction eBooks are also good sellers, the market for them is much more competitive as compared to non-fiction ones. Once you've written an eBook, you can put it up for sale on platforms like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing or Apple's iTunes Connect.
Sell an audiobook
Audiobooks are witnessing a surge in popularity when compared to their text-based counterparts. If you have decided to write and publish an eBook, converting it into an audiobook requires little effort and is a great way to bolster your income. Amazon's Audible ACX platform connects authors with producers who can turn their written work into professional grade audio. Once that's done, the audiobooks are put up for sale on Audible and iTunes.
Compile research and how-to guides
Evergreen content, which is described as that SEO content which stays relevant for a long time after its initial publication, is a good way to generate income. Comprehensive research statistics and case studies, such as social media marketing trends for the last five years, and detailed how-to guides, such as a beginners guide to using Twitter for business, are always going to be sought after people who wouldn't mind paying small amounts for access to the information.
Create an online educational course
Online learning platforms have become extremely popular in recent years with people using platforms like Coursera, Lynda, and Udemy for learning courses about their specific interests. If you are knowledgeable in any field, whether it's web programming, photography or digital marketing, you can create a course on platforms like Udemy or Unacademy and earn money when users register for them.
Sell stock photos
If you happen to be a photography enthusiast, consider selling your photos to stock-image websites like Shutterstock, Alamy, and iStockPhoto. The demand for high quality pictures in commensurate with the competitiveness of this business. So, if you find a niche (such as landscape photography or business photography) and establish yourself as an expert in it on even one site, you can certainly earn a lot of money in your sleep.
Sell your designs and artwork
If you're a graphic designer or even an amateur artist, there are plenty of sites which will pay you for sharing your artwork. Sites like Etsy, Zazzle, and The Souled Store allow people to add their designs to T-shirts, phone cases, mugs, posters, book covers, and more. If and when these products are bought, the sites then pay a commission to the contributing artist.
Build a website
Building a website still remains a viable way of earning passive income online despite it being such a competitive venture. Since the internet is saturated with blogs, an entertaining website featuring quizzes or games is a good alternate. Such websites are not too difficult to make and they are easy to promote on social media. They can attract visitors, who will spend a significant amount of time on the site, in droves. Once a site starts recording several thousand visits each day, use the Google AdSense system to start earning revenue through advertising while you relax.
Build an app
Building a smartphone or tablet app requires a fair amount of technical expertise, but it can pay off handsomely if successful. It doesn't have to be particularly complex or chock-full of features either; a simple one that solves a problem or is entertaining enough to attract users works fine. You never know what may suddenly become popular. For example, the minimalist game Flappy Bird was such a craze that at one point its developer was earning $50,000 dollars a day through in-app advertising. Of course, expecting a success like that is foolhardy, but one can always hope.
Start a YouTube channel
A few people who started their own YouTube channel when the video-sharing site was in its nascent stage are now millionaires. Now that YouTube has become immensely popular with hordes of people running their own channels, making a million dollars is considerably more difficult, but earning a respectable sum of money is still possible. As always, you'll need to find a niche that isn't yet saturated and focus on making engaging videos around it. Once you start raking up views and subscriptions, the money will start flowing in with minimum effort on your part.
Start a podcast
People's lives these days are so fast paced that multitasking has become the need of the hour. That explains why podcasts have suddenly become so popular; they allow people to get information or entertainment while they're in the middle of commuting, working out, cooking, or something else. Podcasts are easier to create than YouTube videos and can be shared just as easily on iTunes. Just select a topic that you're well-informed or passionate about, and start a podcast around it, it's that simple.
Make low-risk investments
This venture requires both time and money, but it is certainly worth it. Making low-risk investments with your savings offers higher dividends than letting the money in the bank. While buying stocks in large corporations comes with a high degree of risk, mutual funds are relatively safer and less volatile. They also offer higher return-on-investment compared to fixed or recurring deposits made in banks.
Sell products on your blog
If you happen to have a blog that attracts a large, devoted viewer base each day, then selling branded products on it is an excellent way to make a little extra money. Things like t-shirts, posters, mugs, and bags that feature your brand name, or some witty copy that your niche may find attractive, will definitely find buyers on your site. You can also link up with affiliate marketers to drive more sales if the business seems to be working out.
Rent out your real estate
If you happen to own a home, apartment, or office space, you have a great source for generating passive income at your fingertips. Peer-to-peer property rental site Airbnb has made it extremely easy for real estate owners to make extra money by renting out their homes to guests for short durations. If you're uncomfortable with such a model, you can also use sites like NestAway to find tenants for your property without having to deal with brokers.
Turning any of these ideas into a success story will take a large amount of time and effort. And even then, the chances of them succeeding are small. But if they do succeed, then all the work you put it in will be worth it, and that should be motivation enough.